The December Sales Problem

The end of any quarter is deal-making time, but December is the best of them all.  I was talking to a salesperson the other day whose opinion was, “nothing happens in December”  Ah, how UNTRUE!  In fact, when other people slow down, its the chance to make a big deal.  But… there is a problem with December that puts sales people against sales managers and while both are aware of it, it certainly creates problems for all sides.

Using your network to make contact

Sales professionals live and die by their network.  Becoming a very successful salesperson typically means that you can use your network to its fullest to get and GIVE introductions, referrals, and more.  There are dozens of posts on ways to build and maintain your network (and I’ll likely have several posts here on this), but what do you do when you want to ask someone in your network for assistance in making contact?

Sales Presentations: No demos….EVER!

I recently spoke at the NY Xpo for Business at the Jacob Javitz center on the topic of “Knockout Sales Presentations” and one of my tips that drew the most controversy was when I said, “During a sales presentation, you never, ever, ever, ever give a demo.”

Before I fully explain my position, I want to give credit where credit is due.  Much of the basis of my presentation comes from the Pitch Coach himself, David S. Rose, who provides advice to entrepreneurs looking for angel investors.  If you want to view his presentation, its on his blog here.  What my presentation did was rather than look at presenting to raise money, it was how to take theses ideas and apply them to making a killer sales presentation.

Bringing Sales Feedback into Product Development

I just read a great post by Jeff Stewart of the UrgentGroup on Sales as R&D in a startup.  The article talks about how in a start-up, your sales team is your R&D.

The wrap up to his post echos a lot of what I say to my teams:

Many engineers I talk to have the misguided “if we build it, they will come,” approach to sales.  To this I say: Bull.  In 1999, I had the chance pleasure of meeting most of the Google sales team in a hotel bar.  Let me tell you, they weren’t talking about algorithms.  While the PHDs at Google deserve a lot of credit for building a great product, we can’t forget that the innovations of the sales team developed for the company.  They are very responsible for getting Google to where it is today.

Sales lessons from my 7 year old: Humility / Just do it

Since I started writing this blog, I’ve looked for sales lessons in everyday life. I blogged a few months ago on sales lessons in a chick flick.  This week, I was treated to a very nice sales lesson from my seven year old daughter.

The other nite, my wife called me and asked me how long it would be before I got home from work because that nite, Erin, my seven-year-old daughter had to go to the PTA board meeting in town and my wife wanted to know if I could watch the other two kids, while she took Erin there.  I wasn’t going to make it home in time, but determined that if we met each other at the school, we would arrive just as the meeting would start.  We could meet there, Erin could do what she needed to do, and then we could all grab a quick dinner.

Business Development vs Sales

I’ve been having this discussion lately with a number of angel investors about the title “sales” and the title “business development.” 

In the traditional sense, business development people deal with creating channels, partnerships, and stategic opportunities for the company.  Sales are the people that go and get people to give you money for your product. 

Since “sales” can have, in some people’s minds, a negative connotation, there has been this trend to call sales people, “business development people” which I think is supposed to have the effect of making them seem less like people trying to get you to give them money.  Business Development people often have no revenue quota, and instead are managed by objectives.  So, by tagging someone a “Business Development” person, you, in theory, are making their contact with potential customers less threatening.

The Enterprise Sale for Start-ups

When I was selling software in my first start-up (Dynamic Mobile Data – wireless dispatch and vehicle location software), the world of software was very different from when it was today.  Other than small consulting projects around my software, I was never selling anything for less than $200,000.  The idea was to have few clients each year at a high dollar amount.   I sold to Fortune 500 companies a large enterprise-wide solution.  This included desktop software, server software, database set-ups, and more.  Each of my software sales had an 18% annual maintenance which included product updates, phone support, and more.

Minimizing Sales Staff and Re-evaluating Comp Plans

As the credit crisis holds, many start-ups are going to start looking to make sure that they hold onto cash as long as they can.

That may include the decision to eliminate and/or outsource a portion of your sales staff.  And, this can often be a very wise business decision.  Of course, the cartoon to the right takes it to the extreme, but as start-ups and other companies decide to eliminate sales staff, the challenge becomes on how do you continue (and accelerate) your trajectory in sales with less sales staff and potentially less resources (minimized travel budget, etc).

Daylight Savings! An extra hour to sell!

OK – so this post has nothing to do with sales really.  Its more that twice a year I sit and ponder the absolute lunacy around Daylight Savings Time.  The amount of money the world governments have spent deciding whether or not to move clocks twice a year, and when to do it just drives me insane.

But… you get an extra hour of sunlight.  Um… no you don’t.  You are just moving the clocks..  But, you save energy by getting up in sunlight.  Ah… so get up at a different time.

Win, Lose, or Draw

I’ve gotten into two lengthy discussions recently about draw as a sales compensation component.  Specifically, since I work with start-ups, the questions were around whether or not you should offer up a draw or not as part of the compensation package.

I have some very strong opinions about draw, and I want to start by going over the basics.  Draw is compensation offered to a new salesperson coming on board.  There is a “draw period” which is the time over which the draw is paid.  (typically 3 to 6 months).  There are two types of draw:

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